Reddit is an attractive site for marketers — that much is certain. While there are plenty of places on the Internet you can go to get in front of thousands of customers, there are very few that can get you in front of what is almost a captive audience. Hosting an AMA is seemingly an opportunity many brands would die for. A chance to talk at end about your product? To get it in front of one of the largest sites on the Internet? To interact directly with customers and let them know EXACTLY the messaging you want them to hear?
It’s the dream!
Except, well, when it becomes a nightmare.
And believe me — it can absolutely become a nightmare.
We don’t want that fate to befall you, which is why we’ve put together a complete guide to hosting an AMA on Reddit. Read on for our advice, but before you get TOO excited...
Should You Host an AMA on Reddit?
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should!
Before even considering unleashing an AMA on the world, I strongly suggest you heed Mr. Goldblum’s wise words.
For one, hundreds of AMAs are conducted to a symphony of crickets each year. While you might think your company is awesome and super interesting, does the general public? What are you doing that’s interesting? Is there something unique about your company or your product? If you took 100 people off the street, how many of them would genuinely think of a question to ask you?
Yet, silence isn’t the worst thing in the world — in fact, it’s absolutely incredibly compared to what can happen if Reddit does care about you (just, say, in the wrong direction).
If you make Reddit mad, you’re going to get destroyed.
There’s even a subreddit full of terrible AMAs.
How about the time Reddit ripped apart an author who was caught using fake accounts? Or when DICE, the developers of the Star Wars Battlefront video game, decided to tackle negative press head on (and, uh, it didn’t go well)? Or when an Amazon warehouse worker decided to get really positive about working conditions all of a sudden?
Even Seth MacFarlane got trounced for being too “spammy” with his new show.
I really want to reiterate what I said in our Reddit marketing guide: Reddit doesn’t like you. And, to clarify, by “you” I mean marketers. We are reviled there — and honestly? It’s not without good reason.
Marketers have been caught manipulating Reddit in the past in unsavory ways. They frequently hop in to communities only to completely miss the point. They spam their wares without contributing. They’re a nuisance in the same way door-to-door salesman are.
So before moving forward, first ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have something interesting — be realistic! — to share with Reddit?
- How familiar are you with Reddit? Will you get site-wide inside jokes?
- Are you trying to run — or turn the tide — on some controversy?
If you have something interesting to share, you’re familiar with Reddit, and there aren’t any zombies in your closet, congratulations! On to the actual guide!
Quick Aside: Do You Need a Reddit Marketing Agency?
So, ever since I wrote my Reddit marketing guide, I’ve received a bunch of questions from folks asking if TCF is a “reddit marketing agency” or if there is such a thing (and if they need one if they want to host an AMA on Reddit).
Here’s the thing: while I’m sure a Reddit-centric agency exists out there, there’s nothing they can do that we can’t (or, more specifically, YOU can’t).
Reddit, while intimidating, is really like any other social network: if you know the lingo, and you watch the platform closely before jumping in, you can have success.
Yes, experience helps — but luckily, posting as an actual human isn’t that much difference that posting as a marketer. If you can swing one, you can swing the other. So that’s our first piece of advice: save the money you’d spend on a special Reddit marketing agency and instead just browse Reddit and join a few communities that interest you (or that are relevant to your industry).
What You Need to Host an AMA on Reddit: The Prep Work
Measure twice, cut once. It’s a universal motto for a reason — and it’s one we think marketers should internalize a bit more.
(Seriously: there’s a reason why we spend so much talking about strategy! If you don’t understand why you’re doing something, you shouldn’t be doing it.)
If you’re planning for an AMA, you need to sit down and plan a few things out. For starters:
What Time Should You Host Your Reddit AMA?
Generally, we prep our clients at least a month in advance. That means figuring out what they want to promote, when they want to actually host the AMA, and then working with them to make sure everything is as smooth as possible.
If you’re planning on hosting an AMA for your brand, we suggest that you start talking about it more than a month out. Your actual “hosting” date (the date you’ll actually be holding the AMA) should be a month or more away.
You shouldn’t just be thinking about the day itself, though.
For one, you need to think about the time, too. Earlier is better (more on that in a bit), but any time can work with some planning.
Likewise, you can’t just hyperfocus on the day itself — you have to think about the lead up. Will you be advertising your AMA? Will you be giving the AMA subreddit a heads-up? Will you be letting people know on other social networks?
Who Will Answer your AMA Questions?
Most people will choose one designated question answerer who will go in and post the AMA and answer questions. This person, generally, will be on a brand-only account that will go through and, well, answer questions.
But you don’t have to only have one.
Some brands will do group AMAs, where multiple members on the team will use their own accounts on Reddit, or separate custom accounts. Sometimes, everyone will use one account, but sign answers to signify who was actually responding.
None of this methods is better than any other — it’s all preference.
What’s Off Limits in Your Reddit AMA?
This is an important one. Do you plan on answering every query — even the silly or negative ones? Do you plan on only engaging positive comments? What is off limits? What isn’t?
Determine this ahead of time. When we hosted AMAs for ASTROGLIDE, for example, there was very little that was off limits — although we knew better than to engage with obvious trolls.
Consider Thinking of Some Prep Questions
It’s a good idea to gather everyone around the office (and even your friends and family) to think up some questions you might be asked. It’s a good idea to be able to come up with answers for some obvious questions ahead of time — not just because you can tweak them with more time, but having pre-set answers for obvious questions can help you focus your time and energy on the ones that might take a bit longer to answer.
How Long Should a Reddit AMA Be?
An AMA can last as long as you want it to. We’ve had them last an hour, and we’ve had them last days. Seriously. If your AMA gets big, expect questions to be pouring in for up to a week — and while you are under no obligation to answer every question (and no one expects you to stay throughout the night), answering questions late or even days after your AMA is “over” will earn you some Reddit brownie points.
By no means is this necessary, though. In fact, most people will understand if you cut out after an hour.
Where’s Your Proof for Your AMA?
Anyone can go and post an AMA where they claim to be anyone else. Because of this, users (and subreddit moderators) generally want proof. “Proof” is anything that shows your audience that you are who you say you are. This could be a picture of your team with a sign saying “Hi Reddit!” and the date. It could be a post on Twitter or Instagram that you can link back to. It can be a picture of something else — a new product, or something that hasn’t been revealed to the public.
Whatever it is — it just has to uniquely identify you (or your company/team).
Alright, now that those basic questions out of the way, let’s start talking about how to make your Reddit AMA successful.
Here’s When You Should Post Your Reddit AMA
If you spend some time Googling this question, you’re going to get a lot of answers from a lot of different people. Katie Wolitarsky, a PR specialist at PR Daily suggests “schedul[ing] it for early afternoon (Eastern time) to maximize your audience.” She also suggests targeting the mid-week.
I don’t agree.
Based on our own internal data, Monday morning (EST) is the most active day on Reddit, followed shortly by Tuesday morning (also EST). That makes these two times the juiciest for AMAs.
Now, when we say ACTIVE, we mean in terms of upvotes — not visitors! The midday (around lunch) tends to be the most active in terms of views, but not votes. Why is that the case?
While the spike in lunch traffic is pretty self-explanatory, the spike in morning votes is… a little harder to explain. Suffice to say, it’s a quirk of the site and Reddit’s algorithm, and that’s about all we’ll go into it here.
Generally, the later on into the week you go, the fewer traffic/votes you can expect to see. Never host an AMA on a weekend, as a rule, for that reason. Fridays CAN be okay for certain types of AMAs, especially if they’re especially tantalizing (think things that might be NSFW or otherwise controversial — topics that people are likely to want to spend their Friday thinking about).
Your Answers are CRUCIAL to Success
If someone asks you a good question, you need to provide a good answer. Simply responding with a few words (or worse, yes or no) just isn’t good enough. While a short answer is appropriate sometimes, Reddit appreciates long answers. Long answers show Reddit that you’re willing to engage with the community — you aren’t here just for a quick PR win.
Likewise, being able to slip in Reddit-friendly references is always a good thing — provided you know what you’re doing.
I can’t emphasize that last bit enough. If you aren’t familiar with Reddit, please don’t try to speak their language. You don’t want to be the personification of, well…
Do Everything You Can to Generate Buzz Early
Have you been advertising your AMA on social media? Have you been tagging all your friends and letting them know it’s going on?
Get ‘em in there. Let them know it’s happening. You want questions, and you want questions early. An empty AMA is the WORST thing and will almost certainly guarantee no one will care about it.
While you’re at it, see if there are any other subreddits that might be appropriate for your brand. Weeks before your AMA, see if you can become part of those communities and casually drop that you’re hosting an AMA soon. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone (and once again, if you aren’t familiar with Reddit, don’t do it), but for the brands it does work for, it can make a significant dent.
Make Your AMA Stick Out
What makes your brand unique? What makes this AMA unique?
Why should Reddit care about you? What’s your gimmick? Spend some time thinking about this, and then just throw all your shame to the curb.
With ASTROGLIDE, we knew Dr. Jess being a sexologist was a big draw — so we put that in the title. We also knew “orgasms” would draw attention, so we highlighted National Orgasm Day in the title.
Shameless? You bet. We wanted a NSFW tag. Sure, it was risky — an NSFW tag could mean no one would want to view the thread from their work computers — but we also knew that it would be enticing, and with the weekend right around the corner…
Obviously, it worked for us.
We realized what made ASTROGLIDE different and we jumped on it. You need to do the same for your brand if you want to be successful.
Reach Out to the Reddit Mods
The IAMA subreddit keeps a running calendar of upcoming AMAs. If you message the moderators, there’s a pretty good chance you can get on it (provided you’re representing a brand, product or person that’s well-known enough). Getting on that list can provide some serious awareness (which, as we mentioned above, is very important).
Likewise, it will also give you a chance to pre-authorize your post, meaning that you can be marked as “legit” a lot sooner. While we don’t find that this makes a huge difference, it’s absolutely worth doing.
Running an AMA isn’t easy. There are a lot of sizeable hurdles, and messing up can create a toxic mess for your brand. At the same time, the potential reach for some brands is just too good to pass up.
Not the DIY-type? We can help you with your next AMA. Contact us.
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